Apple gives, Apple removes: vetoes a virtual keyboard type SwiftKey for Apple Watch and ends up taking out a clone of its own
Imagine that you are a watchOS developer and you have a great idea: create a virtual keyboard on screen that works like Swiftkey, but aimed at the blind. In the Apple Watch there was nothing like it, so you think the idea is going to succeed.
That has happened to Kosta Eleftheriou, developer of FlickType. This app has been banned from the App Store with unclear arguments, and just yesterday Apple presented its new QuickPath keyboard – practically identical to that of that developer – for the Apple Watch. Bad business, it seems.
Back with the indecipherable censorship of the App Store
The history of FlickType comes from afar. This developer already showed it to Apple officials at its headquarters in 2019. Those engineers applauded him for the idea, reported The Washington Post, but then “Apple threw all kinds of nonsensical obstacles.”
It’s with a heavy heart today that we’re announcing the discontinuation of our award-winning iPhone keyboard for blind users.
Apple has thrown us obstacle after obstacle for years while we try to provide an app to improve people’s lives, and we can no longer endure their abuse. pic.twitter.com/cH1HCQzeP1
— FlickType Watch Keyboard (@FlickType) August 16, 2021
This was explained by Eleftheriou himself in a lawsuit that accused Apple of blocking the dissemination of its application. When it was finally approved, its success was limited by “plagiarized and fraudulent apps” that used fake reviews to grow downloads.
The last ban on your app came in August, when Apple told you that your app required full access to the data network and other iOS options and watchOS. Eleftheriou commented that this was not the case, and that even without those permissions his keyboard could function without problems.
As they explained then in The Verge, in reality the problem was not that complete access: the conflict was on VoiceOver, but the developer pointed out that Apple had not bothered to prove his claims, and he met the requirements.
— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) September 14, 2021
The truth is that Apple has launched a keyboard practically identical to FlickType for the Apple Watch, and that has been the straw that has filled Eleftheriou’s glass, which has decided to sue Apple again and posting a message on Twitter telling the company that “see you in court.”
It is not the first time something like this has happened, and in fact an application to be banned and then cloned by Apple it has its own name: it is the so-called ‘sherlocked’ phenomenon.
It remains to be seen what all this remains, but the truth is that these types of events are the ones that raise doubts about the strict control and censorship that Apple imposes about an App Store that is the only way to distribute software on iOS devices. The trial with Epic in the United States has not weakened that position too much, and these types of problems do not stop adding more fuel to that particular fire.
Vía | Input